Alton Grizzard

The Army-Navy game is today. It’s one of the most celebrated days of the year. But today is also December 1; 14 years ago today, Alton Grizzard was killed. Please take a moment today to remember him.

I remember the first time I saw Alton Grizzard. I was 10 years old, and I had just moved from San Diego to Virginia Beach. We finally lived close enough to Annapolis to get to a Navy game. So I was with my father at my first Navy game, and Navy’s offense took the field. My father started to chuckle. I asked him why he was laughing, and he said something about one of the linebackers being lost. Alton definitely looked like a linebacker with that big ol’ neck roll he wore. That neck roll was a symbol of the toughness that he brought to the quarterback position and a sign of things to come.

What are your favorite Alton Grizzard memories?

32 thoughts on “Alton Grizzard

  1. Gary

    That too was my lasting memory of the Grizz-that large neck roll and looking too big for a QB at the time.
    He was a good one and what a devastating shame on his loss.
    I have grown to admire him more as I have read and been able to view more about his on field exploits.
    God Bless & RIP Grizz

  2. Christian

    I met him once. After the Army-Navy game in ’89 he joked (very kindly and good naturedly) about the Gonzaga letterman jackets my buddies and I were wearing. My buddy’s dad was O-Rep for the football team so we were on the team bus after the game.

    The guy had just won the biggest game of the year and he had time to joke with a bunch of 18 yo kids. Always thought that was pretty special.

    I remember old man Belichick saying that the two toughest competitors he ever knew at Navy were Staubach and Grizzard. He said if Grizzard lost out to someone in the 100-yard dash in practice he would be willing to fight the guy if he wouldn’t race him again.

    I think of Grizzard often and pray for him and his family often. My all-time favorite Navy player…thanks for the reminder Phat…

  3. Christian

    Another favorite Grizzard story was that he had a lacerated kidney against someone in ’88 and was ruled out of playing QB the following week–so he played as a WR. The look on his face when Chaump wouldn’t let Griz play against AF in ’90 was pretty classic–he looked so angry he was almost bemused by it.

    Even tho he wasn’t cleared by Chaump (tho was cleared by at least one doctor) he wore his full uniform anyway, just in case. I loved McIntosh (a Gonzaga guy and very big recruit) but wish Grizzard had played in that game.

  4. Christian

    One of Grizzard’s former teammates is coaching a HS team in Va Beach. He is running the option. Apparently the coach is showing his team videos of Grizzard (including the one you did Phat) because that’s how he wants his guys to play…

  5. thebirddog

    I met him once too. There were football players doing a meet & greet at a basketball game in Halsey in ’89 or ’90, and Alton was one of them. I got a chance to shake his hand. I told him that I wanted to go the Academy too, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to hear it. I didn’t know him, but I’d guess that “genuine” would be a word that a lot of people would use to describe him.

    I don’t know if anyone was ever more proud to be a Navy football player. It eats at me that he isn’t around to be a part of the brotherhood of Navy players now. He’d be all over that.

  6. football dad dan

    Many thanx for sharing this memory. I was stationed in Norfolk (and lived in Va. Beach) during Alton’s playing days @ Navy … and still when the terrible news of his tragic death unfolded. A tuff, tuff player who donned the Navy Blue & Gold with gutsy pride and determination every moment he was on the field. I’m sure he enjoyed watching the game Saturday from his perch in Heaven. God bless him & his family always.

  7. USMA89grad

    What a pleasure to watch the video of Alton Grizzard. It’s a wonderful rivalry amongst the Academies but also a special kindred spirit.Grizzard was just plain fun to watch and always amazed me. Superb video — I’d sure like to know what the song was that played.

  8. just

    The very first army-navy game i attended was in ’89, with my dad (huge fan of the mule). I was sitting on the 50 yrd line when they kicked that field goal. i went nuts, only to realize that the men sitting behind me had oozies and were guarding Gen. Colin Powell. That was the first and only time I got to see the GRIZZ live in action. Haven’t missed a game since,was there in ’93. The grizz was (IS) what navy football is all about. I just got myself a navy jersey with #16 on it, and can’t wait to wear it with pride like he did. ALTON GRIZZARD PROVED THE SAILORS RIGHT, TO WEAR THE NAVY BLUE AND GOLD! BEAT ARMY!

  9. Fran Bogdanowicz

    A real competitor. Sad story. Last spring while visiting my daughter in DC visited his grave in Arlington National Cemetary.
    I have all the game fims during from ’89 to present and no one was as competitive as Alton.

  10. schmer

    93′ was my first army game. Still remember it like yesterday sadly. My father told me army week what had happened and that we would go pay our respects at the game. Best helmets I’ve seen us wear, and wish bucchanari had made that kick. Still kills me to this day, they showed it on espn classic this week. Almost cried watchin it.

  11. schmer

    And still have the memory of him carrying frank schenk off the field in 89 burned into my mind. What a great moment when schenk was told by uzilack that he uses a 7 iron and they are drinkin champagne and dancin.

  12. Joe

    I was his stretching partner for a couple years while on the team, a player who saw very little action, a permanent backup.

    I finally did get in to a game, the Notre Dame game in 91. Alton made it a point to reach out to me to tell me how proud he was of the effort… while he was in SEAL training. Yes, “genuine” is a good word for him.

    On the lighter side, he would often take a long blade of grass with the seed cluster thingy on the end and stick the thing in your helmet’s earhole and spin it. It would sound and feel as if a large bee had gotten in your helmet. The reaction every time was hilarious, people throwing their helmets off, then sometimes throwing them at Griz after looking at the Sh$# eating grin on his face… he got me every time he tried.

    May he rest in peace,


  13. Tom Rychlik

    The video is incredible! Saw it for the first time a few months ago and every time I watch it I get chills. I was unable to get to many games during those years due to USMC but saw his determination when I did. We were stationed in SD when he was killed. So senseless. It rocked the whole community. I agree. He would have been eating up the way Navy has been playing for the past seven years. Was at AN on Saturday and you could tell the team was playing with a chip on their shoulders. All the talk about how this was going to be the year that Army achieved parity (for about the third year since they hung with us for the first half in 2006). The affect of RK’s Dad passing was also something you could sense when the D was out there. Army stumbled into a real hornets nest!
    Semper Fi

  14. v

    i sat next to him spanish class at green run high school. he was mr. popluar, even back then, and he still talked to everbody he came in contact with, with genuine friendliness and interest.

    i saw him years later on a discovery channel video, as he was interviewed while going through navy seal training.

    i was sad to hear of his tragic passing.

  15. Ame

    Alton was in front of me in our typing class, and at first I tought he was a jerk, but then I relized he was looking out for me. I had a huge crush on him, like many girls… but he was to me, a great guy

  16. I went to school with Alton. I was not a friend of his, but one of my best friends was somewhat tight with him. She went out on a date with him…it did not go anywhere, but she still thought he was a great person and had great respect for him. I had only spoken to him a few times in passing. What I remember most about him is that he always seemed very humble and nice…he did not appear to turn down his nose at anyone. And he did seem a little shy at times….kind of sweet from someone with so much talent and ability.

  17. Charles Macdonald

    The “Griz” was special.

    He was one of my best friends in HS – great times. (Football, Growing Up, Parties, The Invincibility of Youth, Etc)

    The Griz can be summed up in one word – genuine.

    He is and will always be missed.

  18. JC

    I went to grade school with Alton in Yokosuka, Japan. Played football and baseball against him in 4th and 5th grade. Even back then he was a great athlete and had a way of connecting with people at a young age. No one could hit his fastball. I remember the last time I saw him. My mom was taking me for one last dental checkup before we left for the States as my Dad was retiring from the Navy. As we walked across the parking lot, there he was coming towards us on his sneaker roller skates with a manila folder in hand taking care of his own business at 11 years old.

    We never miss the Army Navy game. I can’t help but think of him on that day every year and the potential that was there. Truly sad.

  19. dana

    He was a quality person even when we were 8th grade classmates. A nice 14 year old guy you knew would always be that way – I am still saddened when I think how long he’s been gone.

  20. Jeremy Nolen

    I am one of Alton’s many cousins and I just had to say what a great feeling it is to see people still talking about him. He was a hero in all respects and has been a role model for me and many others, I’m sure. God bless and thanks…

  21. D Black

    I remember Ensign Grizzard from Seal training back in the day. One day in particular stands out-I was part of ‘smurf crew’ and we were all fighting over the rubber rafts which were available in all sorts of disrepair. We ended up fighting another crew over a semi-decent raft and a donut shaped patch of rubber. Ensign Grizzard stepped up and gave us the “good ” one.
    One other thing I remember was this obstacle we called the ‘Dirty Name” – it was a series of horizontal telephone poles that increased in height as they went. I would jump to every one and hit it about chest high and struggle up. Then I would sit and watch in amazement as Ensign Grizzard ran up them like steps.
    Role model sums it up.

  22. DebraKuz

    I did not know Alton hardly at all, but I remember this: My first day at a new school and I dropped all my crap coming out of the lib, some asses started laughing; Alton came over and helped me pick my things up and said with a big grin, “We’re all not jerks here!” He was a doll, a genuinely charming person. His death was senseless. I remember seeing it on CNN sitting in a hotel room. :(

  23. Cindy

    I worked with Alton’s mom and became friends with her and the family when Alton was in HS. I had the opportunity to see most of his games his senior year. I remember a playoff game in which Alton punted the ball 50-55 yds in the air, and then it rolled another 20 yds. A record-setting punt that was called off due to a penalty. This kid could do it all. And he did it all with class. I still think of him and all that he gave us. An angel on while on this earth and an angel watching over us.

  24. Cindy W

    I worked with Alton’s mom and became friends with her and the family when Alton was in HS. I had the opportunity to see most of his games his senior year. I remember a playoff game in which Alton punted the ball 50-55 yds in the air, and then it rolled another 20 yds. A record-setting punt that was called off due to a penalty. This kid could do it all. And he did it all with class. I still think of him and all that he gave us. An angel on while on this earth and an angel watching over us.

  25. I learned, just today that Alton was gone. I went to Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, Va. I was a few years younger, but I remember the ‘legend’ that he was. I hung out with him several times as a teen. I remember thinking how beautiful and ‘bigger than life’ he was to me. I was amazed by him. He was so gentle and interested in everyone’s story, in everyone’s needs. I had no idea that something had happened to him until today when I got an email from GRHS about a golf tournament with proceeds going to Alton’s Scholarship. I couldn’t believe that he had passed until I began googling and facebooking his name all day. I didn’t know him well, but my heart is breaking. I can’t believe that he is gone. It has been so many years, but it’s fresh and terrible to me today. I didn’t know him well, but I have thought about him many times over the years since my graduation. I am so touched and sad. My heart goes out to his family and all the people that really knew him. I am so sorry. I wish I had known him better. But I will always remember the summer I spent with him.

  26. Mary (Meade) O'Connell

    I was a HS classmate of Alton’s and fellow athlete. He was a great person, who was liked by so many. I won’t forget that day in ’93. I had moved to CA that August, my husband was deployed to Japan, and while watching the news, Alton’s face came on the screen. As I listened to what happened, I sat there in total disbelief and cried. The Navy and our country lost a true hero that day. I visit ANC twice a year, in support of the Wreaths Across America Project, and have participated 3 of the last 4 yrs. I always stop by his grave and say ‘hello’. The last weekend in Jan is when all the wreaths are picked up from the headstones…today was that day. I stopped by once again to pay my respects to Alton…grave 1192, section 59. God Bless.

  27. John Huey

    I played football with Alton at Green Run. I remember him asking me which college to go to because he had met my brother who went to Navy. I really miss him and I hope his memory will never die…

  28. matt p

    Just today Alton came across my mind as a buddy and I were talking about great people we have come across in our lifetime. I was a freshman when Alton was a senior so I did not know him that well. However, I was on the football team so I got to see him day in and day out and how he conducted himself. He was a true leader and always treated everyone with respect. As I look around our nation and see many of the leaders today, I feel as though Alton should be among them. He is such a better person than many of them. It’s just a shame he was lost so young. He may be gone, but he is not forgotten. I will tell of his legacy for years to come.

  29. picklebreath

    I went to High School with Alton. I didn’t know of his passing until very recently. I moved in my senior year and lost touch. I was one of those people on the outskirts of the “popular” people, half in, half out. Alton was so kind and his face was always lit up with a great smile. The last thing we did together as friends was go to a party in Norfolk with a couple of other people. We had a great time, he was really excited because we were younger than most of the others there and he had his eye on an “older” woman. It was a good night. I know he is missed by many and I won’t forget his kind soul or that smile. He was special.

  30. Gregory Middleton

    I remember Griz during long days in Coronado. I remember training in the Combat Training Tank or pool at NAB Coronado. He could clear the length of the pool with just a few massive strokes underwater unlike any of the rest of us. I remember getting hammered when the instructors would make him try to land a football in a bucket on top of the berm and make the entire class pay fir the miss. I remember how he treated everyone around him officer or enlisted. Then there was the unfortunate memorial service and the disbelief we all faced. Definitely a one in a million.

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